Visual-KnowHow for SharePoint

Day in the Life

The SharePoint Team site hasn’t changed much over the years. Neither has the common user complaint: 


NOT ANYMORE! We are offering Visual-KnowHowTM, a next-generation SharePoint site template designed and pre-configured with modern Knowledge Visualization concepts and many other Next-Generation features described in the “Day in the Life” story below.

You will see how to find the right content or experts you need with JUST ONE CLICK. You will also see how to capture the BUSINESS VALUE to reinforce leadership support. You will also find several tools and metrics to REINFORCE USER ENGAGEMENT.

Imagine you are a young engineer trying to fix a problem with product purity. The product has too much liquid and it will cost a lot to reprocess. The Gas to Liquids (GTL) Process Map below shows key components of the plant and how they relate in the overall operation. As shown in the Quick Launch menu, process knowledge is being stored in a variety of pre-configured lists and libraries.

GTL Process Map

Finding Information

Using the map, the engineer focuses on Product Distribution (arrow, bottom center) as a likely place to look for help, then traces the link to Separation Process as an even more likely source of the problem. Clicking this object returns the following Results.

Typical Results from All Content Sources

The engineer gets content from all lists and libraries on a single page (as shown by the rightmost ListType column), as well as Member profiles of experts to call if immediate help is needed. The “Troubleshooting Process for Gas-Liquid Separators” item looks relevant, so she clicks that link…

Typical Expertise List Item

This list item presents a troubleshooting process useful to engineers. It can include rich text, graphics and attachments or links to related content. One advantage of this format is that all relevant material is presented in one place with the explanation of how to use them. Finding all three attachments might be challenging if you need them quickly. If you would rather store documents in a library to maintain versions, just add links to those documents in the Details section.

Adding Your Expertise

The knowledge capture process needs to be fast, and Visual-KnowHowTM delivers. This is the basic structure of all item forms.  The Details field supports rich text including graphics and document or web links. The Main_Category, Sub_Category and Search_Terms columns contain all the network’s metadata. Your choices link new items to the map automatically (see below).

Two Metric fields (cost and time savings) have been defined for this network. You can change the labels to define metrics relevant to your organization.

The Form’s style is very different from SharePoint out-of-the-box. This site uses HTML forms that can be easily modified. The form’s branding (color and other visual effects} can be configured by modifying a CSS file. It isn’t fully“Modern” but it is efficient and responsive.

Expertise Form


Selecting Metadata

Another common user complaint is being asked to add metadata. Visual-KnowHow™ minimizes the effort by using cascading dropdown lists. The only required value is the Main_Category. Since the Knowledge Map returns results based on the metadata you select; it is important to use all appropriate tags.

Metadata Tagging

Main_ and Sub_Categories correspond to the map’s hierarchical layout. Search_Terms contains the complete list of terms to make tagging complete, quick and flexible. The top menu lists all Main_Category options. Once you select an option (e.g. Catalyst), the Sub_Category menu then shows only relevant options. You can also select one or more Search_Terms as required by the content.

Enter Metric values or add attachments/links if needed. Once saved, the new content is immediately linked to the map.

Delivering Extraordinary Business Value

Unfortunately, many Collaboration and Knowledge Management initiatives fail due to lack of leadership support, primarily when they don’t deliver tangible value. Without leader reinforcement, your network members lose interest. How many languishing sites do you have?

The Visual-KnowhowTM site helps in several ways:

  • The site measures business value using metrics your leaders’ desire.
  • Built-in business and activity metrics and peer recognition help shape knowledge sharing behavior.
  • For your HR/L&D groups, studies have shown that effective knowledge transfer can help accelerate time to competency by 50%.
  • Backed by 25+ years of experience as Chevron’s Knowledge Strategist with $ billions in documented cost savings
  • Avoids the expense of developing your own collaboration site template

Our young engineer ran into another problem maintaining the temperature in her reactor. This time she didn’t find any useful guidance. Visual-KnowHowTM  includes a robust Q&A function for this situation.

Q&A is probably the most used and useful knowledge transfer process. SharePoint’s Discussion board has not been very functional. Many groups prefer social media tools like Yammer. But these other tools don’t easily incorporate features like metrics. Visual-KnowHow™ provides a robust Q&A capability.

She posted a new Question as shown below. In the initial post, only the Title, Details and Keyword fields were described. The Question form is like the Expertise form. When a question is posted, members who are subscribed to the list get a notice of the new item. The link “new answer or comment” opens a form to capture their information. When saved, the new Answer is added below the Question

Q&A Process

We ask the author to “Close the Loop” by documenting what was done to solve the problem in the Solution field. Metrics can be captured to easily demonstrate the value of the collaboration.

Within a few hours she received two responses. The information on coolant solved the problem. The engineer later documented the Solution that worked for the next person with a similar problem and estimated the cost and time savings. All Answers remain linked to the Question as they might be of value for other similar situations.

Member Profile

When facing a problem, it is often faster to talk to an Expert than to search for helpful information. Each network member can select from the Search_Terms field to identify one or more areas of their expertise. Members with relevant knowledge are presented on the Results page as well as content. This gives you quick access to someone who can answer questions or point you to relevant people or documentation

Member Profile

Lesson Learned

The Lessons Learned form has all the features of the Expertise form with several additional content fields that have proven useful to capture and replicate this knowledge. Project teams and Knowledge networks will find this type of information very useful.

Lesson Learned

Document Library

The Document Library form has the same features as the Expertise form.


Conversations are as important as documents for effective knowledge transfer. Asking questions is a great way to start discussions that can quickly solve problems, generate innovative ideas and increase awareness.

The Meeting form provides a good way to share agenda and background information, meeting logistics as well as capture outcomes, action items or decisions. You can even assess the meeting’s value to participants. Attaching a recording of the meeting helps with global groups.


Peer Recognition

Studies have shown that the most significant motivator for knowledge sharing is not money or gifts. It is peer recognition (it doesn’t hurt if managers also recognize good work). This is part of generalized reciprocity: if I help you then someone else might return the favor.

Peer Recognition

Short stories like shown here is a good example. We showcase peer recognition on the Network News page below.

Business Value and Engagement Metrics

Business Metrics are a critical feature of Visual-KnowHow™.  Too many KM programs have failed due to lack of demonstrated ROI.

Metrics Menu

The default metrics are cost and time savings.  These can be changed to match what is most important to your organization. Several views are provided to help pinpoint opportunities or recurring problems.

Activity is important to measure engagement, especially in early stages of a project roll-out. This also helps participants demonstrate the value of their expertise.

The next four slides show example views of Business Value and Member Activity by Category and by Person

Business Metrics by Main_Category

Business Metrics by Person

Activity Metrics

View statistics are tracked for all items and reported as Total Views and Unique Viewers. These statistics are captured in a standard SharePoint list, Other views (e.g., by Department, Year) can be added.

Contributions by Member

Network News

One way to boost engagement is to give members a sense of what is happening in their network. The Network News page provides updates on the latest contributions, upcoming meetings and relevant news items.

Network News

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